Barcelona centre-back Gerard Pique has appealed to Lionel Messi not to leave the Spanish side.
Out of contract in the summer, Messi has had a fractious relationship with the club for some time now. He pushed to leave on a free transfer after the season concluded and only stayed when he was told his contract was legally binding.
Although president Josip Maria Bartomeu has resigned his seat, forcing a presidential election scheduled for January, there is no guarantee that the new board will be able to talk him into staying, particularly as Barca are in the process of slashing their wage bill.
Pique, though, is not giving up hope that his old ally might be talked into staying at Camp Nou, having joined the club as in 2001 from Newell’s in Argentina.
Asked by Radio Marca if Messi is set to renew his deal, he said: “We’ll have to ask Leo, I don’t know. We hope that we will stay. It’s a very personal decision and we’ll see.
“As long as he continues at Barca, there is hope, and we hope that he can be seduced into staying.”
Meanwhile, Messi’s old attacking cohort Luis Suarez departed under a cloud in the summer, one of the actions that the old board took that riled the Argentine.
Pique admits it was difficult to see the Uruguay international depart for Atletico Madrid.
“I was very sorry when Luis left, he spent many years at the club and we shared many experiences,” he said. “You play with each other for 90 minutes, but you spend many, many hours with them. We see them every morning, we travel, we are in the hotels, it is as if they was a class-mate.”